Majority of Britons want to leave EU: opinion poll

London, Jan 8 (IANS) A majority of Britons want to leave the European Union (EU), while a growing proportion of British citizens “have felt further removed from Europe” over the last 12 months, according to an opinion poll by London-based research company ORB International.

New research from the company found that Britain is the only European country of the 15 members where a majority want to leave the bloc, and a growing number of people prefer their national currency to the euro, if given the choice, Xinhua reported.

Among the 15 countries, Britain shows the highest level of support for leaving the EU.

Other countries surveyed include France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Iceland. The survey interviewed more than 14,500 adults.

“If we discount those who ‘don’t know’ (21 percent), the UK is the only country where a majority of those with an opinion would elect to leave — 54 percent,” ORB International said on Thursday.

Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB International, said the results show that Britain is “the black sheep of the family.”

“Over the last twelve months, significantly more of us have felt further removed from Europe (38 percent) than closer to Europe (13 percent),” he added.

He noted that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s negotiations with his European colleagues “appear to be crucial in avoiding Brexit.”

There have also been notable changes in Italy, where 42 percent now want to leave the EU compared with 25 percent a year ago and in Belgium, the proportion has grown to 33 percent from 25 percent.

Across the countries polled, 64 percent said they would prefer to stay in the EU, unchanged from 12 months ago.

The research also shows an increase in respondents who, if given the choice, would reject the euro only 15 years after the launch of the currency.

A total of 47 percent of respondents would prefer to use their national currency, an increase from 44 percent last year.

Cameron has promised to hold an “in or out” referendum on Britain’s EU membership by 2017. He has been working to renegotiate a better deal for Britain before the referendum takes place.

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